Way back in mid-August of 2006, President Bush was dealing with two ground wars; a crisis between Israel and Lebanon; a midterm election; a housing market on the verge of collapse; the forthcoming hurricane season (Katrina was just a year earlier); a laundry list of scandals; and the day-to-day struggle to basically run the free world (or pretend to run the free world, depending on who you ask). Earlier in 2006, he struggled with numerous other critical events at home and abroad including rising gas prices, immigration reform, the Dubai ports deal, the Plame-Gate investigation and his vice president shooting a lawyer in the face.
Yet he somehow found time to read not one, not five, not 20, but 60 books that year so far. Sixty! That’s around seven books per month, from January up to mid-August. According to US News & World Report, he was engaged in a competition with Karl Rove to see who could read more books over the course of the year. At the time of the article, Rove is trailing by 10 books, until November when Diebold put him up by three. Rimshot.
By the way, in May of that year, Bush was being interviewed by a German reporter in the Oval Office. Bush pointed to a painting of George Washington and said, “That’s George Washington, the first president, of course. The interesting thing about him is that I read three — three or four books about him last year. Isn’t that interesting?”
Yeah, the only “interesting thing” about George Washington that Bush could recall after having read four books about the first president was that he’s read four books about the first president. Oh, Bushie, you magnificent doofus.
Of course, I don’t begrudge anyone who chooses to read that much literature (sixty books!) — especially if that someone is a student or an author or a shut-in or a prison inmate or simply a person who is fortunate enough to have a lot of free time. But the president, any president, shouldn’t have more free time than me.
But there weren’t any Democratic members of Congress or cable news pundits who questioned whether Bush was telling the truth about this amazing intellectual feat (given his other responsibilities). Because that’s what Republicans do. They’re excellent at turning everything President Obama says into a serious question of his veracity or an outright conspiracy theory.
Yes, in the wake of the current president remarking that he has occasionally gone skeet shooting at Camp David, there appears to be a Skeet Shooting Truther, or “Skeeter,” movement picking up steam on the far-right.
On Fox News Channel’s The Five, Eric Bolling and former Bush press secretary Dana Perino called out the president for lying about skeet shooting:
“I don’t think he needed to say this. He says he skeet shoots at Camp David. How many times he has been to Camp David?”
“Three times,” Bolling replied. “Where’s the proof, Mr. President?”
Sounds a lot like Where’s the birth certificate? to me. Later, Perino added, “They release photograph of President Obama doing everything except for flossing. What he really does, he golfs all the time. We have pictures of that.”
Glenn Beck chimed in: “Obama says he goes skeet shooting all the time. Haha, right… and I gave up a career in the NFL for talk radio.”
On CNN, Erin Burnett hosted a segment with panelists David Frum and Roland Martin on the president’s skeet shooting remark and asked the question with an incredulous tone, “So, now you’re going to say you do it all the time, don’t you have to kind of prove it?” Thankfully Roland Martin shouted, “No!” and made a solid case for the absurdity of the whole thing.
Now, sure. I get it. The conservative media establishment loves to wallow in these ridiculous conspiracy theories about the president. It’s all part of the Clint Eastwood Invisible Obama syndrome. They attack a nonexistent president and make things up because they’ve got nothing else to say.
But then the newest inductee in the House Crazy Caucus, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), appeared in the Burnett segment and challenged the president to a skeet shooting contest in order to determine whether he was telling the truth when he said he shoots skeet at Camp David. Blackburn said, “I think it is a relevant point of conversation. If he is a skeet shooter, why have we not heard of this? Why have we not seen photos? Why has he not referenced it at any point in time as we have had this gun debate that is ongoing? You would have thought it would have been a point of reference.”
A relevant point of conversation? No, see, a relevant point of conversation is to ask how a sitting member of Congress, one of only 535 Americans, can market in wackadoodle conspiracy theory mongering about the president. I mean, it’s not even a substantive topic for a conspiracy theory like, say, Benghazi. It’s a 14-word sentence. If anything, I’d expect the far-right to go the other way with it and turn it into some sort of racial dog-whistle, portraying the president as a gang-banger as they so often have.
To repeat one of my common refrains, if you think there’s no difference between the Republicans and Democrats, you’re clearly not paying attention. From the top down, the Republican Party routinely behaves at the same level as Alex Jones, Glenn Beck, Ted Nugent and the others. In fact, Blackburn recently parroted Alex Jones’ CNN rant about anti-depressant medications. For all of its flaws, we have one party and one party alone that’s serious about getting things done for the American people: the Democratic Party. On the other hand, we have paranoid, petulant children who deal in economic sabotage, vote rigging, blind obstruction and conspiracy theory skulduggery. And they should be treated with an appropriate level of seriousness, which in my view is none at all.